Individual Health Care Mandates and the Problem of Affordability

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					                     Healthy Wisconsin – Model Policy and Advocacy

                                              By:
                                        Adam Thompson
                               Senior Health Care Policy Specialist

                                             August, 2007


The following summary report was sent to participants of a nationwide conference call
providing details on the Healthy Wisconsin initiative. The call was held in August 2007
and was sponsored by the Progressive States Network, Families USA, and the Universal
Health Care Action Network.


Healthy Wisconsin - Model Policy and Advocacy

As State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-WI), and Robert Kraig, from Citizen Action of
Wisconsin, explained during the call, the campaign for comprehensive health care
reform in the state began several years ago. Some highlights, include:

   1. Advocates, including the Wisconsin AFL-CIO1, held over 150 public forums
      across the state as early as 2000 to engage the public and stakeholders and
      build grassroots support for health care reform.

   2. In 2005, legislation requiring the legislature to enact comprehensive reform by
      2008 failed. The bill was SB 4162.

   3. Using the conservative legislature's failure to pass SB 416 or otherwise act on
      health care reform, advocates mobilized and put the following referendum
      question on 11 county ballots in the 2006 election:
                  "Should the Wisconsin Legislature pass a bill that will reduce
                     health care costs by at least 15% and adopt a long term plan to
                     assure access to universal, affordable health care coverage for all
                     Wisconsin individuals and families by 2008?"
                  This ballot question was advanced through a resolution 3 adopted
                     by the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors.

   4. The referenda passed by huge majorities. In Eau Claire County, it passed with
      83% of the vote, which a staff editorial 4 in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram said
      gave lawmakers a clear mandate to work towards universal coverage.
                  Observers also believe the existence of the 11 referenda on the
                    2006 ballot, which helped to expose the legislatures failure to act,
                    helped lead to a new Democratic majority in the State Senate and
                    a smaller Republican majority in the House.




  101 Ave. of the Americas, 3rd Fl. NY, NY 10013 * (212) 680-3116 x105 * athompson@progressivestates.org *
                                          www.progressivestates.org
    5. Legislators and advocates developed the Healthy Wisconsin plan5 and the State
       Senate passed it6 as part of the State budget in June. Although Healthy
       Wisconsin's prospects in the House are uncertain, including the plan in the
       Senate's budget ensures a high profile debate on the need for progressive health
       care reform.

    6. Families USA issued a report 7 showing that Healthy Wisconsin would generate
       13,000 new jobs and over $1 billion in economic growth in the state. This report
       was covered by local news media and helped counter attacks from opponents to
       Healthy Wisconsin.

    7. If Healthy Wisconsin is not included in the final budget, advocates will still fight
       for it as separate legislation and use the issue again during the 2008 elections.

Wisconsin State Contacts/Resources:

       State Sen. Jon Erpenbach
           o http://www.legis.state.wi.us/senate/sen27/news/

       Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Healthy Wisconsin Resource Center
            o http://citizenactionwi.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1
                22&Itemid=92

       Wisconsin State AFL-CIO - Healthy Wisconsin, Your Choice, Your Plan
           o http://www.wisaflcio.org/health_care/HealthyWisIndexPAge.html

National Contacts/Resources:

       Universal Health Care Action Network - www.uhcan.org
       Families USA - www.familiesusa.org
           o Wisconsin page
                    http://familiesusa.org/resources/state-information/state-
                      pages/wisconsin-1.html
       Progressive States Network - www.progressivestates.org
           o Stateside Dispatch: Nation's Most Comprehensive Health Plan Approved
               in Wisconsin Senate
                    http://www.progressivestates.org/content/629/nations-most-
                      comprehensive-health-plan-approved-in-wisconsin-senate#1

1
  http://www.wisaflcio.org/health_care/HealthyWisIndexPAge.html
2
  http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/SB-416.pdf
3
  http://progressivestates.org/files/eauclairehealthcareresolution.pdf
4
  http://progressivestates.org/files/eauclaireleadertelegram.pdf
5
  http://citizenactionwi.org/images/stories/Documents/healthy_wis__summary.pdf
6
  http://www.progressivestates.org/content/629/nations-most-comprehensive-health-plan-approved-in-
wisconsin-senate#1
7
  http://familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/healthy-wisconsin.pdf




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